Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Montessori baby gets a little older.........

We've been sent some new pictures from S.'s Mom. 

This first picture is something that many of us have been discussing.  Once the child is able to move by himself that is exactly what he will do.....especially at nap time!  I'm not sure what the solution is but I'll do some more reading and ask a few questions and discuss what I find in a future post.

This next photo is of S. in his high chair.  The initial cost of these chairs is quite high but the investment is worth it because the chair grows with the child.  The beauty of this type of high chair is that it allows the child to be pulled right up to the table facilitating more participation in family life.

Here's a link to more info. about this type of chair.

Lastly, here is a picture of M. banging on a tambourine.  This sort of activity is essential to the development of a young child.  Not only is he refining his fine and gross motor skills while making that lovely sound, he is also developing his sense of rhythm and, if Mom and Dad join in, is discovering how much fun music can be. 

Note the cushions behind him. If he falls over, he won't hurt himself but, more importantly, they don't hem him in. Watching a child learning how to move (and they do this from birth) and then bunging him into a playpen the minute he can get himself from room to room throws up huge obstacles in his developmental path and can be immensely frustrating to that young child.  Now before I sound too holier-than-thou,  I tried a play pen with my oldest thinking it would help me in some of the household chores.  Wrong!  He was so upset that I soon abandoned the thing and did any chores with him in a sling or backpack. When he was older, he was usually right beside me helping.

Rock on, S.!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

G.'s special day

     G. celebrated his birthday a little while ago and his mother sent us some of the pictures.  If I have the story correctly (and I hope K. will correct me if I get it wrong), G.'s birthday was kept low key.  His Mom did an at-home version of the "ceremony" we use in the classroom. 

Holding the globe, G. & Mom  discussed where he was born.

Then G. and Dad looked at pictures arranged in chronological order from the day he was born until now.

G. lit a candle to represent the sun.  Then, carrying the globe, he walked around the "sun" - one orbit for each year he was born.

His Oma sent him some money in Swiss Francs and, after some discussion about what to buy, and a trip to the bank to have the money changed, his parents took him shopping.  This is what he chose.

Digging for crystals.

An eyeball kit for making and discovering all sorts of things about eyeballs.

The finished creation.

 And (drum roll, please)  the sick stomach!  Yuuuuuuuuck!

     The activities that G. chose reflect the kinds of things he is interested in right now.  The discussion beforehand prepared him for having to make choices in a small store. I know from experience that any preparatory discussion with a child will go right out the window if that child is taken into a big box toy store.  Expecting a child to stick to his decision with thousands of choices in front of him is just not fair.  Big box toy stores are waaaaay too stimulating and, in my humble opinion, are no place to take children.  

     G.'s parents took him to a smaller local toy store where he found it much easier to make his decision.  Having been in the store on other occasions, he already knew what to expect and had seen the science boxes before.  Choosing which kits to buy gave him valuable lessons in using money and critical thinking.

Happy belated birthday, G.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gardening with Ml.

Ml. and her family are avid gardeners.  They have a large vegetable patch that Ml.  has been a part of since she was very small.  Her favourite job, other than eating the produce, is watering.

Ml. was almost 4 when these pictures were taken so a garden hose does not pose a problem for her.  As we saw in this post younger children find it easier to fill a small watering can from a larger container. (Safety note:  young children must always be supervised when watering.  Even an inch of water in a large container can pose a drowning threat.)  I wonder what Ml. found in that enormous cabbage?

There are many wonderful things to be found in a garden and exploration is part of the fun.  It is important to let a child fully explore.  Plants might get trampled or uprooted and these are great 'teachable moments'.  By comparing the trampled plant to the untrampled ones  or by explaining what roots are and how they help the plant grow are excellent ways to draw a child's attention to plant care. 

 How satisfying it is for a young child to help gather the fruit and vegetables at the end of the season. 

Finally, Ml. makes a salad with vegetables she has picked from the garden.  Practical life, sensorial, botany, zoology - all lessons learned in the classroom and practiced while gardening at home.  

Saturday, May 8, 2010

M. helps around the house.

M.' parents sent me some recent pictures of M. helping out around the house.  (You may remember M. from the very first posts on this blog. ) M.'s mother also sent some commentary to go along with the photos.

Here are some new pics of M. participating in our daily activities. 

M. carrying a log from the wheel barrow to the basket on the deck. This is something he has volunteered to help with so I try to find some smaller pieces for him but they are still big and heavy.  He enjoys the weight.
(Cynthia adds - I love watching children challenge themselves. It is important that adults respect that and not help when help is not needed.  It is equally important to watch for signs of frustration - because that's when it may be time to step in and offer to help.)

M. watering the plant with his small watering can. I have put a small amount of water in the baby tub for him to be independent.

M. washing the lettuce and putting the wet leaves in the "thing" to dry them. Tonight he actually was able to pull on the sting to make it turn. It is a first!

M. likes to take out the dried laundry from the dryer and put it into a basket.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Another visit to C. & M.'s house

C.'s mother sent us some more pictures. 

Here is a picture of the low cupboard which has been organized to allow C. to help in preparing a meal or setting the table before dinner.  Like all shelves in a child's environment, these are neat and not overcrowded.  She can easily access everything she needs.  Just like a Montessori teacher, C.'s mother constantly observes her children's environment making changes or replacing broken pieces.

This basket holds everything C. needs when she helps her parents prepare a meal. Again, there is only one of each thing and they are all child size.


A little jug that C.'s mother found
                    She also found this great little peeler that fits perfectly in C.'s hand when peeling carrots. C.'s mother has learned to view the world from her child's skill level and is always on the lookout for child size items that will allow C. to do things for herself.
In the bathroom, C.' has a small basket for her dirty clothes. I love that this basket is small enough that she can carry it to the washing machine all by herself.

And because most houses don't have bathrooms built for children, C.'s parents have put a sturdy stool in front of the mirror and sink. The little potty is for M. and was placed there before she showed real signs of wanting to get out of diapers. Her mother told me that after it had been there a few days, she found M. sitting on it - without a suggestion or reward being offered.